When Phones Were Fun: The QWERTY Phones (2001-2008)

– The year is 2008. I've just graduated from
college in Virginia. And before I ship off to Boston, the bar I've hung out at for seven years, gives me this bowling
shirt as a graduation gift. Still fits. More importantly Reuters
reports that same year that Americans have just
crossed a milestone. For the first time, they're
sending more text messages than phone calls. Some are still laboriously, tapping them out on numeric keypads. The others are texting more easily, but more expensively on
blackberries and Palm trios and right in between
manufacturers see an opportunity.

What if they could cram a
full keyboard into a phone without packing in all the
complexity and cost of making a smart phone? I'm Michael Fisher. Join me for a look back at a
category that's a lot more fun than it sounds. Let's revisit, the messaging phones. (upbeat music) As my European friends are
no doubt already saying in the comments, yes.

We Americans were very
late to the texting boom. As far back as 2001,
Nokia had figured out how to cram a full keyboard into a dumb phone at the low low cost of
well being the subject of a Bubba Sparxx video. Yeah, the 5510 isn't like the phalanx of finished phones I featured
in my last Nokia video. Most of which looked like the product of a weekend eating fun fun guy. While this general design
would eventually evolve into useful and even beloved
weirdos like the 3300 and the N.GAGE, at this
stage it was just a bunch of tiny keys dumped onto either side of a monochrome LCD lifted
right from the Nokia 3310. But the durability that
made that phone legendary isn't anywhere to be found here. The creeks of this casing
are just as loud as the clacks from the
deeply unsatisfying keys. (phone clacking) And according to reviews at the time, the backplate was
notoriously easy to crack. Also the phone wasn't
just focused on messaging.

Check out the hard key
shortcuts to the FM radio and MP3 player down here. And you'll see it was also
one of the first music phones. Interactive CD ROM With 64 megabytes of onboard
storage for your MP3s. Given those features, maybe
this price tag of 500 Euro or nearly $800 adjusted
for inflation makes sense. I know my Samsung 3500 didn't
have these features in 2001, still coyote ugly, man. Let's move on. Now this is the kind of
communicator that gets you a commendation for original thinking. JerryRigEverything
called 2002's Nokia 6800, the coolest phone he ever owned. And it's easy to see why. Cell phone in the streets
text her in the sheets. By 2004, the concept had
matured into this Nokia 6820, an absolutely tiny phone
compared to its predecessor, but just like that forerunner, it crammed a full Qwerty
keyboard into that compact casing by hiding it with a hinge.

Now these keys are still kind of cramped by today's standards with poor travel and only moderate feedback, but they were a huge
improvement over the original. Also while the 6800's design
made me feel pretty smart because I could see the gold
contacts that would tell the software when the keyboard
was stowed or deployed. The 6820's approach of
building that switch into the hinge itself is much cleaner. Sure, the display was a postage stamp and the camera wasn't great
given the kind of phones that would hit the
scene just a year later, but with a concept this innovative
and execution this tight, I can't help but adore the 6820. Don't agree? Hey ya, it's my life. You can leave or get out. That enough period song references for ya? (hip hop beat) Okay, then. Let's slide on over to the
form factor that would come to define messaging
phones, at least in the US. So the LG Rumor is probably
the least interesting phone in this video. I probably wouldn't have even
included it if it weren't for the fact that I owned it.

And it's the reason I
made a Facebook account. So thanks for that, I guess. See, in 2007, even though
Facebook was the new social spot, my stubborn self was still
clinging to the carcass of Myspace talking to Tom
until I bought this phone and discovered that one
of the preloaded Java apps was Facebook. So I joined and you know, until everyone's racist,
old relatives showed up, it was a pretty cool place to be. But anyway, it wasn't the apps
that kept me on the LG Rumor, nor was it the durability
coz I broke it very easily. It was how competently it
executed its core function of making messaging easier. The numerics click, the slider
snaps, the QWERTY clacks. I've never used a dumb
phone before or since with a keyboard this satisfying.

That's a sentiment apparently
shared by the former owner of this phone Megan
who loves Harry Potter. Also, I hope you got that social studies homework done Emily. Mr. Feeney is a tough one. Yeah, I had to get this fun from eBay in this US cellular trend because my Sprint model is long gone. But thanks to its micro
SD slot, the photos from my old Rumor remain in my archive. As you can see by 2007 standards, this was a pretty okay
1.3 megapixel camera and it made up for its lack of flash with color filters of dubious usefulness. It was never my first choice
of shooter at the time, but I'm glad I had it
with me to snap this shot of my director Conrad, grinding this sword for a production of Rashomon. Actual real talk, we lost
Conrad earlier this year. So I'm happy I was able
to snap these at the time. The best camera is the one
you've got on you, after all. Now slider is all well and
good, but when you think about it, wouldn't two sliders be better? Enter the matrix.

No, not that one. No, not that one, either. This matrix is from Pantech. Oh, and this particular phone is on loan from Avi Greengart,
president and lead analyst at Techspotential who's also
been kind enough to lend me a lot of other artifacts for this series. Seriously, stay tuned anyway, Anyway, just like the
company's Helio Ocean and Pantech Duo, the
Matrix stacks two sliders, one atop the other. So your numeric keypad
pops out in portrait, and the Qwerty slides out in landscape.

Now this does make it a big
ice cream sandwich of a phone. While the Matrix was
faster than the Rumor, thanks to its 3G connection, the rumor was easier to use one handed because the num pad was
just always exposed. But the real bummer on the
Matrix was the lack of space for the keys to depress. Plus there's no room above
the top key rows here. Thumbs were always bumping
up against the bottom of the screen. And the whole thing suffers
from a combo common to the era. A glossy gel coat surface without hollow plastic void beneath. Not exactly a pocket full of sunshine. All right, I admit. I rushed through that one so we could get to our final device. My personal favorite
certainly but also one of the best sequels in mobile phone history. Samsung's Alias phones were kind of like the clam shell version
of the Pantech Matrix. Open the hinge one way and it's a phone, open it the other way and
it's a texting machine.

Now this is the Alias 2 of 2008. Yeah it brought some speck
bumps and it potted over some features from the first one. Alright, let's stop and talk about this. If you remember Microsoft
Bob, this is very similar where the idea is to make
software less intimidating, if it's presented in the
context of something familiar. So you get this dorm room home screen with all your menu items laid out in a kind of skew amorphism writ large.

It's not something I
could live with today, but back in 2008, if I
were a Verizon customer, I'd have a lapped up whatever
dumb UI they were dishing out in exchange for this ultimate
gadget of a keyboard. See, instead of just
painting a bunch of numbers and letters on the keys,
like the first Alias, the Alias 2 made each of these
rubber buttons transparent, and it's stuck a tiny yank
screen under each one.

That meant they wouldn't
just change function when you switched which
mode you were using, they'd also change appearance. So in messaging mode, you'd get a full QWERTY keyboard
complete with arrow keys and in phone mode, you had way
more buttons than you needed. So in addition to the
usual numerics and t-pads, Samsung gave you shortcuts to
messaging, camera, Bluetooth, the alarm clock, tons of stuff. E-Ink is the same display
tech that makes things like the Amazon Kindle possible.

It only uses power when it changes state. So it's just perfect for this application. Now the downside is it's
tricky to use because all the keys have to be the
same size and there's no way to feel out a difference between them. But the combination of the
comfy gummy finish reminiscent of the Palm Centro and the sheer geeky gadgety
goodness makes it impossible for me to really criticize. In fact, I coveted this phone
so much that back in the days when Blackberry press
events were still a thing, I used to hound Blackberry
executives to build a key three with an Alias style keypad
with Owlette instead of E-Ink, you know, so they could
change function or language on the fly, or even do
some rainbow back lighting like laser keyboards. That never happened of course. And the Alias 2 fell victim
to the same market forces that ultimately killed every
other interesting dumb phone, the rise of the unremarkable
slab smartphone. So even though the products
featured in this episode of when phones were fun,
had more than their share of shortfalls, and we wouldn't
really want to own any of them today, we can at least take a page from Fallout Boy and say, thanks for the memories, even
though they weren't so great.

Thanks again to my friend Avi Greengart, who's been covering tech
even before phones were fun. Check out his free research
reports on the mobile landscape at Techsponential in the description. Thanks also to friend
of the channel, Martin for providing the Nokia
devices seen in this video and my when Nokia went crazy episode. And if you're wondering
where the Motorola flip out and LG Voyager and other
messaging phones I teased in the last episode are well, be sure to subscribe to
the MrMobile on YouTube, because this is not the last
messaging phones episode, I will produce.

Until next time, thanks for watching. And if you can't stay home, then at least stay safe and wear a mask while you
stay mobile my friends..

As found on YouTube

Remember When Phones Were Walkie Talkies?

– [Michael] You know what's terrible? Phone calls. They take a lot of time, they meander, they make your ears sweaty, and if you miss one, you have
to deal with the only thing worse than a phone call. Voicemail. The cure for phone calls was
supposed to be messaging, but you know, that's also
getting kind of terrible. All day, every day, is an
avalanche of notifications with time-consuming, tapped out messages volleying back and forth. There used to be something in
between these two extremes. It was called Push to Talk. You remember, it's the
feature that instantly transformed the guy behind you in line into the worst person ever.

(man talking loudly in background) – You're outta your mind. (voice echoing) – [Michael] And maybe you're
filled only with loathing for the time of walkie talkies on phones but I miss it dearly, because the whole idea behind
it was getting things done. (upbeat music) In fact, done was the whole
slogan of the industry leader in walkie talkie phones
circa 2004, Nextel. Full disclosure, I worked
for Nextel at the time so my recollections are no
doubt rosier than the reality. But even today, it's tough not to admire the company's bold,
aggressive advertising. As its VP of Marketing said
in an interview at the time, people use Nextel not
to chat and play games or send SMSes to girlfriends,
but to get things done.

The state of Push to Talk has suffered since those halcyon days of mobile. Voice minutes are now largely
unlimited on most carriers, making the money-saving
aspect of PTT moot, and a network capacity crunch
and disastrous acquisition by Sprint didn't do
Nextel any favors either. So diminished is the
importance of PTT that Sprint doesn't even offer Push
to Talk phones for review. Fortunately for this video,
AT&T came to the rescue with a couple loaners.

You may remember this phone from a video I published last summer. It's simple, it's rugged, and it's got a big button on
the side for walkie talkin'. Now this is obviously more a
business product than anything. On its website, AT&T calls
out all the corporate uses for walkie talkies, like tracking your fleet of truck drivers or managing a squad of security personnel. If you want Push to Talk for your own personal or family plan, it's still available for about
five bucks a month per line. That gets you unlimited access
on AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, though they're not interoperable.

And the way it works is this. You decide who you want to talk to, as you can see, my options
are pretty limited, and you push to talk. In about one or two seconds
usually, you're connected. And that's the beauty of this whole thing. You're not waiting for a
regular call to connect and then ring through, and you don't have to leave a voicemail if they're not there. You just connect, talk, and
stop talking when you're done. If they're not there, well then maybe you send them a message. And because PTT uses the
same cellular network that voice and data do,
it works nationwide. No current offerings are
as fast as the old Nextel, which had a network built for the purpose, but it's still faster than a phone call and a damn sight quicker
than tapping out a text.

Now let me tell you why you hate it. Because jerks ruined it. There was a code of etiquette
that courteous users adhered to back in the day, and it had two huge important points. One, no barging. That means don't just hold down
the button and start talking because it's weird for the other guy, when his phone comes to
life with a human voice and he's just trying to live his life. And two, no using the speakerphone when it might annoy other people. Here's the thing that
nobody seemed to know. Every Push to Talk
phone has a privacy mode which disables the loudspeaker and lets you carry on a half duplex call through the earpiece.

Push to Talk didn't need to be intrusive. It was discourteous users that made it so. Today you don't need special hardware to use your phone like a walkie talkie. Apps like Zello and Voxer
bring the functionality to any Android or iPhone. You don't need to worry
about what carrier you're on and they've taken it to the next level with social features. But you need to first
find and launch the app and then keep it running to
make sure it stays working. Those extra steps eliminate
some of the immediacy that made classic Push
to Talk so appealing where you could just push a couple buttons to be instantly connected. (phone beeping) Did you use Push to Talk back in the day? Is it still a part of your work today? Share your stories in the comments and be sure to subscribe
to Mr. Mobile on YouTube. Till next time, thanks for watching and stay mobile, my friends. (upbeat music fading)

As found on YouTube

Razer Phone 2: The Non-Gamer’s Review

– This is a different sort
of Razer Phone 2 review because for the past month I've
been using it as a standard everyday smartphone more
so than a gaming platform. I've read a few books,
made a lot of voice calls, ad I've watched decades old
television shows in glorious SD and I've played a video game
or two from about the same era. In other words, I've used the
Razer Phone 2 as a non-gamer and with one predictable
exception, it has delivered. (upbeat music) Just to get this out of the
way, yes, I have used the phone for its main purpose and yes, it is an exceptional gaming device.

I don't always notice the
smoothness of the 120 hertz display in a game, but in the
everyday swipes and taps of navigating Android, oh yes,
this glides along as silkily as its predecessor. What I notice a lot more
while gaming, is audio. I did get to try the Hammerhead
ANC earbuds with this phone but the noise canceling
isn't that great on these. Probably my favorite thing
about them is they light up but that's kind of beside the point. If you use earbuds, you're
missing out on these massive speakers and it's not just
that they're big but they're positioned properly. See when I'm playing Alto's
Odyssey on a OnePlus 6T, my palm frequently blocks the
single bottom firing speaker and that's not a problem for
these front firing blasters on the Razer Phone 2 and they're good for much more than games.

I can't overstate how great
the sound is on this thing. When I have it with me on the
road and I wanna rock out in my hotel room, I don't need
to use a Bluetooth speaker or headphones. It's pretty impressive that
Razer managed this kind of sound while also making the speakers waterproof. You don't get something
for nothing though, the cheese graders on those speakers are just as good at sucking up skin bits as on the first
Razer Phone and if you're listening to a lot of podcasts, certain voices make the
speakers rattle at full volume. As to be expected when you
pack in over a hundred decibels into a phone, I find that
keeping the volume set below 75 percent, solves for it.

I do wish calls were louder
on the speakerphone though. Other companies like Samsung
use a custom dialer that gives you a toggle for more volume
but because Razer does very little customization of the software, there's no such option here. That's a small price to pay
for having such a clean Android experience though. The only big changes beyond
Nova Launcher are the Cortex app, that lets you customize
how much power you want the phone to put into rendering
each game, and the Chroma app, which controls the surprisingly
addictive light-up Razer logo on the back. Now, if you've got battery
anxiety, watch out, you'll sacrifice about
three percent per hour if you keep the logo lit all the time. The phone's battery is brawny
buy to buy, and if you leave it in the default settings
with the screen at 90 hertz and conservative use of Chroma,
you can expect many milliamps left at the end of the day.

I never baby this thing and I
seldom worry about going dead before midnight. When I do need to top up,
the inbox wall plug does what a quick charge 4 adapter
should, it gets the phone from empty to 50% in 30 minutes exactly. Thanks to the new glass back,
wireless charging is also a thing and thanks to Chroma
on the Razer charger, that thing is a lot of fun. It has Bluetooth so you
can control the colors and brightness through the Chroma app now, it came in a recent update, it's not a reason to drop
a 100 bucks on this thing, but the way the phone is built might be. See the charging coil is located
way down low on this phone so using another charger
is a crapshoot at best. Given those compromises, it's
an open question as to whether the switch to a glass back was worth it, but if you wanna protect that glass back, lets talk about today's sponsor, dbrand. You know the drill, vinyl
skins in almost any color or texture sold for a reasonable price and it really suits the phone nicely.

I've had a dbrand skin on here
since I got my review unit. Hit the link in the description for more. Now as I said in my first
impressions video, I was happy to find that the Razer Phone 2's
screen is much brighter than its dim predecessor but
this is why extended testing is important. The moment I took is outside
for a sunny day of playing Ingress Prime, I knew I
still wanted more nits. Given how much brighter
the direct competition is, that's the Asus ROG phone next to it here, this is still an area where
Razer can and should improve. The biggest shortcoming of
the first Razer Phone though was its camera, and that well, that's the lowest point of this phone too. Now Razer does deserve credit
for upgrading the hardware with optical stabilization on
the back and a selfie camera capable of 60 frames per second video. But that front footage
is still stuck at 30 fps pending a software update
as I make this video. And speaking of software,
this still happens pretty regularly, not sure what's going on here.

In terms of the photos themselves, well, I'll put it to you this way, I was shooting side by
side with the much cheaper OnePlus 6T during my review
process and on the whole, the OnePlus has it beat. Listen, that's not to say I
always prefer OnePlus's photos. In fact, the Razer's
tendency to go darker, sometimes serves it well. Notice how the 6T blows out
the highlights on the white siding in these photos, while
the Razer preserves it better. But try shooting your
appetizer under dim lighting on Restaurant Week, you're
gonna want a camera that can pull those details from the shadows. That gulf gets wider when you factor in OnePlus's Night Mode, which Razer doesn't have and
the picture doesn't get any better when you consider
that Google's Pixel 3, priced exactly the same
as the Razer Phone 2, has the best fire and
forget camera in a phone, in my opinion. But in truth, comparing
this thing to a Pixel, really misses the point. Where the Pixel 3 is trying
to be the Android phone for everyone, Razer built its
Razer Phone 2 for Razer fans. It's almost like Razer's
where Apple was years ago, selling a curated mix of
features and aesthetic to a very loyal and
very specific fan base.

If that's you, or you're just lookin'
for something different, this phone gives you a lot for the money. If that's not you, you'll likely
find it harder to look past that mediocre camera or the
older version of Android, particularly given how fierce
the competition has gotten. The Razer Phone 2 is on sale
now, both unlocked and at AT&T. Razer fans and oblivious
others alike, I wanna hear your thoughts on this phone and
I want you to share those thoughts in the first
annual MrMobile Awards, hit up the link in the
description to vote for this phone or anything else on the ballot in the Viewers' Choice section, and you'll also be entered for
a chance to win a big prize.

Until next time, thanks for watching and stay mobile my friends..

As found on YouTube